Sunday 25th February 2018

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Posts tagged ‘nickel’

King’s Bay Resources reports initial drill results from Labrador nickel-cobalt project

January 16th, 2018

by Greg Klein | January 16, 2018

Although collared 150 metres apart, the first two holes on King’s Bay Resources’ (TSXV:KBG) Lynx Lake property both showed nickel-cobalt values above background levels over wide intervals.

King’s Bay Resources reports initial drill results from Labrador nickel-cobalt project

Lynx Lake has the Trans-Labrador Highway
bisecting the property, as well as adjacent power lines.

Hole LL-17-01 brought 0.058% nickel and 0.013% cobalt over 115.2 metres. LL-17-02 returned 0.057% nickel and 0.014% cobalt over 110.8 metres (not true widths). The thickness of the intervals and distance between the holes suggest “potential for a more localized zone of economic mineralization in the area,” the company stated. Assays for gold, platinum and palladium are expected later this month.

The initial drill campaign tested a small part of an approximately 24,200-hectare property. Under focus was the project’s West Pit, where airborne VTEM found a shallow anomaly of high resistivity measuring about 400 metres in diameter and 50 to 300 metres in depth. Historic, non-43-101 grab sample assays from the area graded up to 1.03% copper, 0.566% cobalt, 0.1% nickel, 5 g/t silver, 0.36% chromium, 0.39% molybdenum and 0.23% vanadium.

Other historic, non-43-101 grab samples from the property’s east side showed up to 1.39% copper, 0.94% cobalt, 0.21% nickel and 6.5 g/t silver.

King’s Bay now plans geostatistical and structural analysis to identify more drill targets. A field crew returns later this year.

Meanwhile a 6% copper grade highlighted last month’s results from the company’s Trump Island project in northern Newfoundland. Four of 15 outcrop samples surpassed 1% copper and also showed cobalt assays up to 0.12%.

In September King’s Bay offered a $250,000 private placement that followed financings totalling $402,000 that closed the previous month.

Visual Capitalist and VRIC 2018 look at the raw materials that fuel the green revolution

January 10th, 2018

by Jeff Desjardins | posted with permission of Visual Capitalist | January 10, 2018

 

Records for renewable energy consumption were smashed around the world in 2017.

Looking at national and state grids, progress has been extremely impressive. In Costa Rica, for example, renewable energy supplied five million people with all of their electricity needs for a stretch of 300 consecutive days. Meanwhile, the UK broke 13 green energy records in 2017 alone, and California’s largest grid operator announced it got 67.2% of its energy from renewables (excluding hydro) on May 13, 2017.

The corporate front also looks promising and Google has led the way by buying 536 MW of wind power to offset 100% of the company’s electricity usage. This makes the tech giant the biggest corporate purchaser of renewable energy on the planet.

But while these examples are plentiful, this progress is only the tip of the iceberg—and green energy still represents a small but rapidly growing segment. For a full green shift to occur, we’ll need 10 times what we’re currently sourcing from renewables.

To do this, we will need to procure massive amounts of natural resources—they just won’t be the fossil fuels that we’re used to.

Green metals required

Today’s infographic comes from Cambridge House as a part of the lead-up to its flagship conference, the Vancouver Resource Investment Conference 2018.

A major theme of the conference is sustainable energy—and the math indeed makes it clear that to fully transition to a green economy, we’ll need vast amounts of metals like copper, silicon, aluminum, lithium, cobalt, rare earths and silver.

These metals and minerals are needed to generate, store and distribute green energy. Without them, the reality is that technologies like solar panels, wind turbines, lithium-ion batteries, nuclear reactors and electric vehicles are simply not possible.

First principles

How do you get a Tesla to drive over 300 miles (480 kilometres) on just one charge?

Here’s what you need: a lightweight body, a powerful electric motor, a cutting-edge battery that can store energy efficiently and a lot of engineering prowess.

Putting the engineering aside, all of these things need special metals to work. For the lightweight body, aluminum is being substituted for steel. For the electric motor, Tesla is using AC induction motors (Models S and X) that require large amounts of copper and aluminum. Meanwhile, Chevy Bolts and soon Tesla will use permanent magnet motors (in the Model 3) that use rare earths like neodymium, dysprosium and praseodymium.

The batteries, as we’ve shown in our five-part Battery Series, are a whole other supply chain challenge. The lithium-ion batteries used in EVs need lithium, nickel, cobalt, graphite and many other metals or minerals to function. Each Tesla battery, by the way, weighs about 1,200 pounds (540 kilograms) and makes up 25% of the total mass of the car.

While EVs are a topic we’ve studied in depth, the same principles apply for solar panels, wind turbines, nuclear reactors, grid-scale energy storage solutions or anything else we need to secure a sustainable future. Solar panels need silicon and silver, while wind turbines need rare earths, steel and aluminum.

Even nuclear, which is the safest energy type by deaths per TWh and generates barely any emissions, needs uranium in order to generate power.

The pace of progress

The green revolution is happening at breakneck speed—and new records will continue to be set each year.

Over $200 billion was invested into renewables in 2016 and more net renewable capacity was added than coal and gas put together:

Power Type Net Global Capacity Added (2016)
Renewable (excl. large hydro) 138 GW
Coal 54 GW
Gas 37 GW
Large hydro 15 GW
Nuclear 10 GW
Other flexible capacity 5 GW

The numbers suggest that this is only the start of the green revolution.

However, to fully work our way off of fossil fuels, we will need to procure large amounts of the metals that make sustainable energy possible.

Posted with permission of Visual Capitalist.

The Vancouver Resource Investment Conference 2018 takes place at the Vancouver Convention Centre West from January 21 to 22. Click here for more details and free registration.

Copper crusader

December 29th, 2017

Gianni Kovacevic sees even greater price potential for the conductive commodity

by Greg Klein

Evangelist he may be, but Gianni Kovacevic’s hardly a voice crying in the wilderness. His favourite metal displayed stellar performance last year, reaching more peaks than valleys as it climbed from about $2.50 to nearly $3.30 a pound. But Kovacevic believes copper has a long way to go yet. That will be a function of necessity as the metal shows “the strongest demand growth of any of the major commodities.” Especially persuasive in his optimism, Kovacevic brings his message to the 2018 Vancouver Resource Investment Conference on January 21 and 22.

Gianni Kovacevic sees even greater price potential for the conductive commodity

Increasing copper demand will unlock
lower-grade resources, says Kovacevic.

As a researcher, commentator and investor who’s also the CEO/chairperson of CopperBank Resources CSE:CBK, co-founder of CO2 Master Solutions Partnership and author of My Electrician Drives a Porsche, he brings new approaches that link topics of energy demand, commodity supply and environmental stewardship.

Kovacevic sees a new paradigm driving copper’s future. “The invisible hand in commodities during the last cycle was China,” he says. “Its economic growth just came out of nowhere. This time the invisible hand is this pervasive use of copper in everything that’s electrified. That means even the smallest village in Africa, which per capita has negligible copper consumption, is becoming a line item. When you create, transfer and utilize greener and cleaner energy, it takes more copper by a power of magnitude. For example to establish a megawatt of windpower it takes five times more copper than it does a megawatt of conventional thermal-generated energy.”

Then there’s the battery-powered revolution and the attention it’s brought to lithium, cobalt and graphite. Saying “I like anything in electric metals,” Kovacevic stresses the importance of nickel as well. Still, “copper wins because the interconnectivity will always be copper and copper plays a role in each battery as well.”

That leads to a supply problem that can have only one solution. “I believe we’re going to have to make uneconomic deposits economic. And there’s only one way to do that—with a higher copper price.”

With no foreseeable hope of a copper mining “renaissance” comparable to the effect that fracking brought to oil and gas, the metal will simply require more money. “We’ve got the old legacy mines,” Kovacevic points out. “We’ve spent a lot of money on exploration in the last cycle and didn’t find a lot. What we do have is lower-grade resources. They are simply not economic at a low copper price.”

Gianni Kovacevic sees even greater price potential for the conductive commodity

Kovacevic: Electrical generation, storage and
connectivity put copper at the top of energy metals.

Apart from diminishing grades, the business of putting new mines into operation is “taking longer with water, electricity and permitting issues, and it’s getting into funkier places,” he continues. “The Elliott Wave [technical/fundamental analysis] on copper is $7.50 a pound. I find that very interesting. All the buy-out action in the copper space happened for the most part between 2006 and 2012. The mean price for copper during that time was about $3.50 a pound. The all-time high was about $4.50 for a short while, but the mean was $3.50.”

Copper’s 2017 performance makes that figure look viable again. Kovacevic, however, cites analysis from BHP Billiton NYSE:BHP stating that 75% of future projects will require more than $3.50. “Could we see a scenario in which the copper price goes past the old all-time high and stays there for a while? And will the buy-outs in the next wave, if they occur, be higher on average than those in the previous 2006-to-2012 cycle? I believe the answer will be yes. But if you look at the average grade that went through the top 15 copper producers’ mills in 2010, it was 1.2% copper. In 2016 it was 0.72% copper. So if you were mining 30 million tonnes a year, now you have to mine 40 or 45 million tonnes for the same metal yield. And without higher copper prices, that doesn’t make much of a business case.

“So the first question is, are we going to need more copper in the next five, 10, 15 years? The answer in my opinion is yes. In fact it has the strongest demand growth of any of the major commodities. And where will that copper come from? Well, it’s going to come from a mix of places but we’ll have to make these projects economic. That should bode well for people who have invested in the copper junior space.”

Addressing the topic of how investors might look at the energy revolution in 2018 and beyond, Kovacevic speaks at the 2018 Vancouver Resource Investment Conference, to be held at the Vancouver Convention Centre West from January 21 to 22. Click here for more details and free registration.

Castle Silver Resources samples 4.7% at a second Ontario cobalt project

December 9th, 2017

by Greg Klein | December 9, 2017

Update: Effective February 23, 2018, Castle Silver Resources begins trading as Canada Cobalt Works TSXV:CCW.

Recent work at the former Beaver mine shows why some Ontario silver past-producers have attracted Castle Silver Resources TSXV:CSR in its quest for cobalt. An initial field program collected three composite samples averaging 4.68% cobalt, 3.09% nickel, 46.9 g/t silver and 0.08 g/t gold.

Castle Silver Resources samples 4.7% at a second Ontario cobalt project

The individual breakdowns come to:

  • 4.746% cobalt, 3.985% nickel, 37.4 g/t silver and 0.06 g/t gold

  • 4.743% cobalt, 4.624% nickel, 26.9 g/t silver and 0.09 g/t gold

  • 4.554% cobalt, 0.676% nickel, 76.5 g/t silver and 0.09 g/t gold

The three composites came from selected hand-cobbed material gathered at surface and weighing a total of 38.7 kilograms. The samples don’t necessarily reflect the property’s mineralization, Castle Silver cautioned.

Located near the town of Cobalt and within the eponymous camp known for high-grade silver, Beaver shows similarities to Castle, another former silver mine and the company’s flagship, 80 kilometres to the northwest. Last week the company released assays from underground mini-bulk sampling at Castle that graded up to 3.1% cobalt. In November Castle Silver announced a drill intercept of 1.55% cobalt over 0.65 metres from the same property, the first assay from a summer drill program that sunk 22 holes totalling 2,405 metres. More assays are pending for both surface drilling and underground sampling.

The company also holds the former Violet silver-cobalt mine proximal to Beaver.

Noting an obvious discrepancy between Castle Silver’s moniker and its commodity of choice, president/CEO Frank Basa said the February AGM will consider a name change to “further build CSR’s brand in the Canadian cobalt sector with the company holding unique competitive advantages in the northern Ontario Cobalt region, including underground access at Castle and a proprietary metallurgical process (Re-2OX).”

Quebec acquisition brings Saville Resources precious, base and rare metals prospectivity

November 27th, 2017

by Greg Klein | November 27, 2017

A flurry of updates shows a new project, new faces and new financing for a rejuvenated Saville Resources TSXV:SRE. The company now moves into Quebec’s James Bay region by taking on the 3,370-hectare Covette property. Although it’s seen limited exploration so far, Covette underwent a 1,402-line-kilometre VTEM survey late last year, along with prospecting and sampling this year. The coincidence of EM conductors with magnetic highs suggests prospectivity for base and precious metals, the company reported. This year’s field program included pegmatite sampling for evidence of lithium.

Quebec acquisition brings Saville Resources precious, base and rare metals prospectivity

Of two historic, non-43-101 grab samples, one returned 4.7% molybdenum, 0.73% bismuth, 0.09% lead and 6 g/t silver; while the other showed 1.2 g/t silver and 0.18% copper.

An underlying greenstone belt could offer base and precious metals potential as well as pegmatite-hosted lithium and tantalum. “Komatiites have also been described in the region, with such rock types known to host significant nickel-copper massive sulphide deposits at other localities globally,” the company stated.

Covette lies just 10 kilometres north of the all-weather Trans-Taiga road, which runs parallel to the LG-3 transmission line.

Pending TSXV approval, Saville gets the property by paying Zimtu Capital TSXV:ZC $350,000.

Additionally, Saville announced Michael Hodge’s appointment as president/CEO/director. Having started his career in 1999 on the staking program for Commerce Resources’ (TSXV:CCE) Blue River tantalum-niobium project in British Columbia, Hodge has field experience on over 25 exploration projects as well as success in raising capital for junior miners.

Jody Bellefleur joins Saville as CFO, bringing over 20 years’ experience as a corporate accountant for the sector.

Saville also announced a private placement of up to $270,000. The company closed an $857,300 placement in July. Among other updates, Saville settled $219,000 in debt by issuing shares and warrants that would represent 18.7% of the company’s outstanding shares.

Castle Silver Resources drills 1.55% cobalt over 0.65 metres with nickel, gold and silver in Ontario

November 13th, 2017

by Greg Klein | November 13, 2017

Last summer’s drilling at Ontario’s former Castle mine “intersected mineralization in each and every hole,” Castle Silver Resources TSXV:CSR reported November 13. The one assay released so far hit 1.55% cobalt, 0.65% nickel, 0.61 g/t gold and 8.8 g/t silver over 0.65 metres starting near surface at 3.85 metres in downhole depth. The company estimates true width between 65% and 85%.

Drilling finished in late August when an originally planned 1,500-metre program completed 22 holes totalling 2,405 metres.

Castle Silver Resources drills 1.55% cobalt over 0.65 metres with nickel, gold and silver in Ontario

Castle Silver expanded its summer campaign
from 1,500 metres to 2,405 metres.

“Once again we’ve demonstrated how historical operators overlooked the potential for cobalt, gold and base metals at the Castle mine as they focused exclusively on the extraction of high-grade silver,” said president/CEO Frank Basa.

“We will carry out trenching to follow up on an array of new near-surface targets generated by this drilling in the immediate vicinity of the Castle mine. But our priority now is to complete final preparations to carry out critical trenching and drilling of untested structures on the first level of the mine.”

With intermittent production between 1917 and 1989, the former mine has 11 levels totalling about 18 kilometres of underground workings. “This does not include an unknown extent of drilled vein structures which were never mined, typically due to silver grades below a certain high-grade threshold, for which CSR has records,” the company added.

Using XRF analysis, an independent firm has found potential for high-grade cobalt mineralization within unmined structures along first-level adit drifts and walls. In July Castle Silver released results from an 82-kilogram bulk sample of vein material that showed 1.48% cobalt as well as 5.7 g/t gold and 46.3 g/t silver. As a result, the company re-evaluated five previous chip samples for gold, with results averaging 3.7 g/t. The samples originally assayed 1.06% cobalt, 5.3% nickel and 17.5 g/t silver.

Earlier this month Castle Silver and Granada Gold Mine TSXV:GGM announced a provisional milling agreement for a plant that would be located on Castle Silver’s property in Gowganda, Ontario. About a 204-kilometre drive from Gowganda, Granada’s project reached pre-feas in 2014 and a resource update in June.

Castle Silver closed the final tranche of a private placement totalling $1.2 million in June.

Mining commentator Stan Sudol says undue emphasis on the gold rushes stifles Canadians’ understanding of a vital industry

November 10th, 2017

…Read more

Visual Capitalist: Nickel, secret driver of the battery revolution

October 30th, 2017

by Jeff Desjardins | posted with permission of Visual Capitalist | October 30, 2017

Nickel, the secret driver of the battery revolution

 

Commodity markets are being turned upside down by the EV revolution.

But while lithium and cobalt deservedly get a lot of the press, there is another metal that will also be changed forever by increasing penetration rates of EVs in the automobile market: nickel.

This infographic comes to us from North American Nickel TSXV:NAN and it dives into nickel’s rapidly increasing role in lithium-ion battery chemistries, as well as interesting developments on the supply end of the spectrum.

Nickel’s vital role

Our cells should be called nickel-graphite, because primarily the cathode is nickel and the anode side is graphite with silicon oxide.—Elon Musk,
Tesla CEO and co-founder

Nickel’s role in lithium-ion batteries may be under-appreciated for now, but certainly one person familiar with the situation has been vocal about the metal’s importance.

Indeed, nickel is the most important metal by mass in the lithium-ion battery cathodes used by EV manufacturers—it makes up about 80% of an NCA cathode and about one-third of NMC or LMO-NMC cathodes. More importantly, as battery formulations evolve, it’s expected that we’ll use more nickel, not less.

According to UBS, in its recent report on tearing down a Chevy Bolt, here is how NMC cathodes are expected to evolve:

Cathode Year Nickel Manganese Cobalt
NMC Present 33% 33% 33%
NMC 2018 60% 20% 20%
NMC 2020 80% 10% 10%

The end result? In time, nickel will make up 80% of the mass in both NCA and NMC cathodes, used by companies like Tesla and Chevrolet.

Impact on the nickel market

Nickel, which is primarily used for the production of stainless steel, is already one of the world’s most important metal markets, at over $20 billion in size. For this reason, how much the nickel market is affected by battery demand depends largely on EV penetration.

A shift of just 10% of the global car fleet to EVs would create demand for 400,000 tonnes of nickel, in a two-million-tonne market. Glencore sees nickel shortage as EV demand burgeons.—Ivan Glasenberg,
Glencore CEO

EVs currently constitute about 1% of auto demand—this translates to 70,000 tonnes of nickel demand, about 3% of the total market. However, as EV penetration goes up, nickel demand increases rapidly as well.

The supply kicker

Even though much more nickel will be needed for lithium-ion batteries, there is an interesting wrinkle in that equation: most nickel in the global supply chain is not actually suited for battery production.

Today’s nickel supply comes from two very different types of deposits:

  • Nickel laterites: Low-grade, bulk-tonnage deposits that make up 62.4% of current production

  • Nickel sulphides: Higher-grade, but rarer deposits that make up 37.5% of current production

Many laterite deposits are used to produce nickel pig iron and ferronickel, which are cheap inputs to make Chinese stainless steel. Meanwhile, nickel sulphide deposits are used to make nickel metal as well as nickel sulphate. The latter salt, nickel sulphate, is what’s used primarily for electroplating and lithium-ion cathode material, and less than 10% of nickel supply is in sulphate form.

Although the capacity to produce nickel sulphate is expanding rapidly, we cannot yet identify enough nickel sulphate capacity to feed the projected battery forecasts.—Wood Mackenzie

Not surprisingly, major mining companies see this as an opportunity. In August 2017, mining giant BHP Billiton NYSE:BHP announced it would invest $43.2 million to build the world’s biggest nickel sulphate plant in Australia.

But even investments like this may not be enough to capture rising demand for nickel sulphate.

Although the capacity to produce nickel sulphate is expanding rapidly, we cannot yet identify enough nickel sulphate capacity to feed the projected battery forecasts.

Posted with permission of Visual Capitalist.

Paved with mineralization

October 27th, 2017

Norman B. Keevil’s memoir retraces Teck’s—and his own—rocky road to success

by Greg Klein

Norman B. Keevil’s memoir retraces Teck’s—and his own—rocky road to success

Profitable right from the beginning, Teck’s Elkview mine “would become
the key chip in the consolidation of the Canadian steelmaking coal industry.”
(Photo: Teck Resources)

 

“We were all young and relatively inexperienced in such matters in those days.”

He was referring to copper futures, a peril then unfamiliar to him. But the remark’s a bit rich for someone who was, at the time he’s writing about, 43 years old and president/CEO of a company that opened four mines in the previous six years. Still, the comment helps relate how Norman B. Keevil enjoyed the opportune experience of maturing professionally along with a company that grew into Canada’s largest diversified miner. Now chairperson of Teck Resources, he’s penned a memoir/corporate history/fly-on-the-wall account that’s a valuable contribution to Canadian business history, not to mention the country’s rich mining lore.

Norman B. Keevil’s memoir retraces Teck’s—and his own—road to success

Norman B. Keevil
(Photo: Teck Resources)

Never Rest on Your Ores: Building a Mining Company, One Stone at a Time follows the progress of a group of people determined to avoid getting mined out or taken out. In addition to geoscientific, engineering and financial expertise, luck accompanies them (much of the time, anyway), as does acumen (again, much of the time anyway).

Teck gains its first foothold as a predecessor company headed by Keevil’s father, Norman Bell Keevil, drills Temagami, a project that came up barren for Anaconda. The new guys hit 28% copper over 17.7 metres. Further drilling leads to the three-sentence feasibility study:

Dr. Keevil: What shall we do about Temagami?

Joe Frantz: Let’s put it into production.

Bill Bergey: Sounds good to me.

They schedule production for two and a half months later.

A few other stories relate a crucial 10 seconds in the Teck-Hughes acquisition, the accidental foray into Saskatchewan oil, the Toronto establishment snubbing Afton because of its VSE listing, an underhanded ultimatum from the British Columbia government, getting out of the oyster business and winning an unheard-of 130% financing for Hemlo.

Readers learn how Murray Pezim out-hustled Robert Friedland. But when it came to Voisey’s, Friedland would play Inco and Falconbridge “as though he were using a Stradivarius.” Keevil describes one guy welching on a deal with the (apparently for him) unarguable excuse that it was only a “gentleman’s agreement.”

Norman B. Keevil’s memoir retraces Teck’s—and his own—rocky road to success

Through it all, Teck gets projects by discovery or acquisition and puts them into production. Crucial to this success was the Teck team, with several people getting honourable mention. The author’s closest accomplice was the late Robert Hallbauer, the former Craigmont pit supervisor whose team “would go on to build more new mines in a shorter time than anyone else had in Canadian history.” Deal-making virtuoso David Thompson also gets frequent mention, with one performance attributed to his “arsenal of patience, knowledge of the opponents, more knowledge of the business than some of them had, and a tad of divide and conquer…”

Partnerships span the spectrum between blessing and curse. International Telephone and Telegraph backs Teck’s first foray into Chile but frustrates its ability to do traditional mining deals. The Elk Valley Coal Partnership puts Teck, a company that reinvests revenue into growth, at odds with the dividend-hungry Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan. Working with a Cominco subsidiary, Keevil finds the small-cap explorer compromised by the “ephemeral response of the junior stock market.” And smelters rip off miners. But that doesn’t mean a smelter can’t become a valued partner.

Keevil argues the case for an almost cartel-like level of co-operation among miners. Co-ordinated decisions could avoid surplus production, he maintains. Teck’s consolidation of Canada’s major coal mines helped the industry stand up to Japanese steelmakers, who had united to take advantage of disorganized Canadian suppliers. “Anti-trust laws may be antediluvian,” he states.

Keevil admits some regrets, like missing Golden Giant and a Kazakhstan gold project now valued at $2 billion. The 2008 crash forced Teck to give up Cobre Panama, now “expected to be a US$6 billion copper mine.” Teck settled a coal partnership impasse by buying out the Ontario Teachers’ share for $12 billion. Two months later the 2008 crisis struck. Over two years Teck plunged from $3.6 billion in net cash to $12 billion in net debt.

But he wonders if his own biggest mistake was paying far too much for the remaining 50% of Cominco when an outright purchase might not have been necessary. Keevil attributes the initial 50%, on the other hand, to a miracle of deal-making.

For the most part Keevil ends his account in 2005, when he relinquishes the top job to Don Lindsay. By that time the company had 11 operating mines and a smelting/refining facility at Trail. A short chapter on the following 10 years, among the most volatile since the early ’70s, credits Teck with “a classic recovery story which deserves a full chapter in the next edition of Never Rest on Your Ores.” Such a sequel might come in another 10 years, he suggests.

Let’s hope he writes it, although it’ll be a different kind of book. As chairperson he won’t be as closely involved in the person-to-person, deal-to-deal, mine-to-mine developments that comprise the greatest strength of this book—that and the fact that the author grew with the company as it became Canada’s largest diversified miner.

Meanwhile, maybe Lindsay’s been keeping a diary.

The author’s proceeds go to two organizations that promote mining awareness, MineralsEd and Mining Matters.

There’s skiing in them thar hills

October 23rd, 2017

by Greg Klein | October 23, 2017

Some appearances to the contrary, sliding downhill might not be the ambition of every mining company. But Barrick Gold TSX:ABX has a new ski resort under consideration around the site of a southern British Columbia past-producer. Although a local enthusiast says significant progress is imminent, PostMedia reports, a company spokesperson pegs the possible project “at a very, very early stage.”

There’s skiing in them thar hills

Recreational potential around a former underground
mine might offer Barrick an opportunity to diversify its assets.

That’s been the case since at least 2012. According to a Hope Standard account from that year, the miner had a feasibility study underway for an all-season resort around the former Giant Mascot underground mine about 10 kilometres from the town of Hope.

A 1974 B.C. Geological Survey report said Giant Mascot was mined briefly in the 1930s and 1958, then from 1959 to 1973. Production estimates vary, but a 1987 study commissioned for Mascot Gold Mines Ltd said Giant gave up 4.6 million tons containing 71 million pounds of nickel and 31.4 million pounds of copper, “with significant quantities of cobalt,” from 1959 to 1974.

“The mine closed in August of 1974 because of the loss of sales contracts for copper-nickel concentrate in Japan and because of the stringent policies towards the mining industry of the provincial NDP government,” the report stated. The study quoted a 1973 historic, non-43-101 estimate of 951,471 tons averaging 0.75% nickel and 0.3% copper. Operators had given only minimal attention to the mine’s gold, chrome, cobalt and PGM potential, the report added.

Barrick got the property through its 2001 merger with Homestake Mining, according to the Standard. By 2012 Barrick was considering a resort offering fishing, hiking and boating, along with possible ski facilities nearby, the paper noted. Consultations were underway with First Nations and other local communities.

Now PostMedia reports Dennis Adamson, an elected official of the Fraser Valley Regional District “and the project’s No. 1 booster,” says Barrick will soon file a notice of intent.

“I’ve been pushing this for years. It’s the No. 1 question I get,” he said of his 721 constituents. “Not a day goes by when I don’t get someone asking me when the ski hill will be open.”

But Andy Lloyd, spokesperson for the world’s top gold miner, cautioned that any such plan “is at a kind of conceptual stage … a very, very early stage … we wouldn’t want to create a false impression that Barrick is building a resort.”

Something of a higher priority might be Barrick’s relations with Tanzania, where the company holds a 63.9% stake in LSE-listed Acacia Mining, operator of three mines in the country. Barrick has proposed that the government get half the mines’ economic benefits, a 16% interest in the assets and US$300 million from Acacia towards unresolved tax claims.

Acacia says it doesn’t have the dough.

Meanwhile the Canada West Ski Areas Association, PostMedia reported, believes the province already has too many resorts chasing too few skiers.